This is going to be my last post (well, I think it is) in this series. After we finished our Colloquy, Chris Taylor (of Forgiven Wife) suggested that I write ….
How can a guy cope with a sex hiatus other than simply taking care of physical release on his own?
Whether he is giving time to a wife who is making genuine effort to work through some issues, creating a crisis but not yet seeing results, or trying to work on himself so he is sufficiently prepared for WW III, if he is not having sex, he is without an important connection. How does he cope with that mentally and emotionally?
In this series, I’ve written about the need for refused/denied husbands to cleanse their hearts and minds of the garbage they’ve come to accept and believe, to spend time with God in both Bible reading and prayer, and meet with other Christians to help them get their heads screwed on right.
What I want to do with this post is to talk about you as You.
Do You Know Who “You” Are, Anymore?
While it sounds like I’ve gone off my crumpet, I think that you really need to let this sink in. A few months ago, I wrote a series about Bad Teachings, with special emphasis on how the Church distorts Paul’s dictum to husbands to “love your wife as Christ loved the Church.” In one post, I presented a list of ten things that readers of a marital forum would say did NOT constitute LYWACLTC™. One of them was
LYWACLTC™ does not mean losing yourself in your wife.
There is a popular aphorism that tells us, “A man marries a woman hoping she won’t change, and a woman marries a man hoping he will.” Given the dynamics of marriage, the guy is going to be disappointed on both counts. Marriage means that both the man and the woman change and adapt, forging a life as one from the material of two different lives. A man MUST change, that is just a given.
However, when the man stops being himself due to the wants, wishes and whims of his wife, he is no longer his own man, and quite often, not even God’s. Yes, I believe wholeheartedly in the man becoming the bedrock support for his wife and family, but this is still done within the context of being accountable to God, not His intermediaries.
“Find Your Passions”
I know, I know; it’s a rather trite line and everyone and her idiot second cousin quotes it on FaceBook to justify their every bad decision in life. But I actually have a reason behind using this phrase. While often used as grist in dewy, gauzy, sentimental tripe on Facebook and Instagram, the idea behind it isn’t all that wrong: find your true self in God.
When we marry, we change. It’s just the nature of the decision. In a previous post, I used the image of the convergence of two rivers, the Monongahela and the Allegheny to form a new river, the Ohio. Yes, in marriage man and woman join and form one flesh, but they are still two people, with differing personalities.
All too often, it happens that one spouse allows the other to dominate and, over time, allows his/her distinctives to be squelched for the sake of the marriage. Above, I say that being a godly husband does not mean losing yourself in your wife. Guys, you are are not called to be an accessory to your wife’s lifestyle. Yes, we are servants to our wife and family. Guess what? You wife is also called to be a servant – to you and your family!
So, guys, here’s what I’m saying when I tell you to “follow your passion”:
Find the guy you lost.
And, yes, I mean “lost”. Many times, a husband will give up activities and avocations that he enjoyed for the sake of creating togetherness in a marriage. It might be for the cause of safety, as in:
- the guy who quits cycling because of car accidents
- the guy who quits flying ultralights, not wanting to commit an Icarus
- the guy who quits chess because studying takes hours a day
I think you get what I’m saying. Yes, many times we guys will allow our interests to be subsumed into the marriage because they pull us away from the marriage. This is not a bad thing, as the marriage becomes the object, the focus of our lives, now. But the person who cycled or flew or studied the Benko Gambit until 1:00 in the morning should still be there, and not have been transmogrified into a mere marital factotum.
“Lift Up Your Eyes….”
While you are in this Interim Period™, in this watch-and-wait holding pattern, have a look around your community and see if there aren’t things that you can do that will be an assist to you as you go through the Clear and Cleanse™ phase. If you haven’t done so already, join a gym or your local Y and start getting some exercise. Check out a local community college and see if there aren’t any courses being offered that might be intriguing or might help you develop a new skill set.
Since we are coming into winter, are there any church or recreation league basketball programs operating? The Salvation Army could use some help with bell-ringers this time of year. Food banks always need volunteers. Is there a Habitat For Humanity program in your locality?
You get my drift – lift up your eyes off of your own bad self/situation, and find things that you can do, either for yourself or for others.
“These Things You Ought To Have Done….”
Bible reading? Check.
Outside activities? Check
I’m sure that you are wondering “Uh, CSL, you do realize that these things take up time, don’t you?” Yeah, I do. So?
Sorry, not meaning to be too flippant, but really, what’s the big deal? It’s not like this is going to diminish your love life, right? Okay, I realize that what I am presenting will require time to yourself and for yourself.
“Is that going to take away from my family time, my husband time?” I’m not saying that you forgo obligations to your kids and family; do you dadly duties and live your Dad Life. Go to the games, recitals, etc., and continue to love on your kids like you should. But after the kids go down for the night, and you know that you wife isn’t, find your time to be with God and His word. Find your night(s) to work with the volunteer rescue squad or the foodbank.
Fulfill your husbandly duties, as well. I’ve described in the past what I feel a husband’s obligations are to support his wife in her activities. If, however, those activities abet sin against the marriage, I would say no. Seriously study your interaction and relationship dynamics. Examine your patterns of interaction and see if there are any patterns of dysfunction in the ways that the two of you communicate or even live together.
One resource I would recommend is going back and reading A Wife’s Heart and the following Colloquys. Read the Q&A between Chris and I, and see if some of the things that she talks about are applicable in your marriage. If they are, if you can see where you have caused hurt in your wife’s heart, then confess it, seek forgiveness and live repentance. Repentance, by the way, is NOT synonymous with prostrating yourself in a perpetual state of contrition.
This Interim Period™, btw? To borrow from my beloved Porky Pine, “it ain’t no how permanent.” You are not called to live in a state of indecision and wondering for the duration of your marriage. By definition, “interim” means “in-between”, and waiting on your wife to **** or get off the pot is not a life-time occupation.
Referencing Chris’s original question, she asked about waiting and watching during a period in which your wife “is making genuine effort to work through” the issues that make it hard to engage in a normal sex life in your marriage. There are two points that factor into this, the first being, “genuine effort”. I can’t define this for you; I can’t observe this. This is for you and your wife to discuss. If there are real and valid issues, these need to be identified. A simple “I’m working on my issues” is not enough. “How are you doing it, and what strides are you making” is a valid response.
Second, this Interim Period™ is not open-ended, and is not a time where your wife gets to declare the marriage bed dead for an indefinite length of time. Both Chris and I know of a couple in which, with the blessings and decree of the marriage counselor, no sex was engaged for a year and a half. It wasn’t supposed to be a year and a half, but as long as the wife kept saying, “I’m uncomfortable”, intimacy kept getting pushed back.
So, yes, work on yourself during this period, and let your wife work on herself. If she wants your help, help. But remember that this period, while she is supposed to be working on herself, you are to be working on yourself.